The Thousand Islands lost a great friend and tireless advocate when Sissy Danforth lost her battle with cancer in April 2006. Sissy was Executive Director for TILT from 1991 to 2003, and a member of the board of trustees before that.
Under her leadership, TILT grew from a small group of concerned citizens interested in conserving a localized area into a regional conservation organization highly regarded by its peer groups.
One of her great accomplishments at TILT was the development of the Rivergate Trail, a multi-use trail linking sections of the Penn Central Railroad’s abandoned railroad beds in the towns of Philadelphia, LaFargeville, Theresa, Redwood and Clayton. The trail is a favorite spot for hikers, mountain bikers, skiers, ATV riders and snowmobilers. The Trustees of TILT have dedicated the trail in her honor and it is known as the Sissy Danforth Rivergate Trail.
Sissy also worked with NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to recreate the historic pavilion on Grindstone Island’s Picnic Point State Park. After years that included research, design, building partnerships and fundraising, the pavilion was completed in 2004. In Summer 2006, NYSOPRHP dedicated the Picnic Point Pavilion to Sissy Danforth in a special ceremony.
Every boater, every visitor, every resident on the St. Lawrence has reason to be grateful to Sissy for her work in conserving countless rocks and shoals throughout the Thousand Islands. Thanks to Sissy, these small islands are protected from inappropriate development and will remain in their natural state for the benefit of wildlife who nest or spawn or feed on them and for the benefit of humans who paddle by them, fish among them or see them silhouetted against the sunset.
Throughout her tenure, Sissy served on several boards, including the NYS Open Space Committee, contributing her expertise and building relationships for the benefit of the Thousand Islands. Her enthusiasm for conservation was contagious, boosting donor support for the work of the land trust. While she was director, the lands conserved by TILT mounted to nearly 6,000 acres and spread from Cape Vincent downriver to Oak Point, while the membership grew significantly.
Sissy’s passing is a loss for all of us who love the Thousand Islands, and she is greatly missed.